What happens in the third trimester?

Weeks 27 to 40

What to expect in the third trimester

The third trimester of your pregnancy covers weeks 27-40.

At a glance

  • You will look very pregnant now and regularly feel your baby wriggling around
  • It is a great time to be shopping for baby!
  • You may get Braxton Hicks now, as your body prepares for the birth

Your growing baby

At this stage of your pregnancy you will be very obviously pregnant and feeling your baby wriggling around inside of you – you might have even done the old 'balance a glass of water' on your bump trick to watch it wobble about as your baby moves!

The confined space of your womb will mean baby is more wriggly than kicky from this stage and you’ve probably found that they have a time of being very active and a time of quietness. From 32 weeks of pregnancy the pattern of your baby's movements should be fairly consistent and stay roughly the same until you give birth.

By week 30, your baby will be around 39cm long and won't grow in length much more before birth.  He or she will be able to see and hear, and will probably be able to distinguish between light and dark. They will also have mastered the sucking reflex and may be sucking their thumb or fingers… awww.

Their little lungs are still developing and may need some support to breathe on their own until they reach about 36 weeks, but their skin is getting plumper.

By the time you are ‘full term’ – 40 weeks – your baby on average will weigh around 3-4kg

Changes to your body

As you reach the 32nd week of your pregnancy you may start to feel pressure down below as your little one positions themselves head down and getting ready for their birth. Don’t worry if this hasn’t happened yet, some babies don’t get into this position for a few more weeks, or even just before birth!

In this trimester you may also find that those toilet breaks once again become more frequent as a result of your little one pushing against your bladder. You may also feel breathless and experience pesky cramps as your baby lies on your nerves. Try yoga or going for a walk to help with the pains

Preparing for baby's arrival

Now’s the time to start the exciting task of baby shopping (if you have been able to resist!). From nursery furniture to baby clothes, there is a lot to think about – and of course, your own hospital bag goodies to buy and get packed! In addition to this, by law you will need to get a car seat if you plan on driving your little one home from the hospital. See our top tips and useful information here in the Bump To Baby Product Guide - Car Seats.

Get plenty of rest when you can in the lead up to the birth and remember to sleep on your side at night and during day time naps with your growing bump. Research has shown that sleeping on your back in the late stages of pregnancy can increase your risk of stillbirth. So throughout your third trimester it's strongly advised that you go to sleep on your side.

Planning the birth

Your midwife might have asked you about your birth plan or pain relief choices in labour, and it's a good idea to write down some thoughts, even if you don't end up sticking to them to the letter. Think about what to pack in your hospital bag, too.

Towards the end of this trimester you may start getting some Braxton hicks – the 'practice' contractions that some women experience in the weeks before their due date. They can be uncomfortable but can pass without any incident. 

From 35 weeks onwards you, or your partner, can try daily perineal massage. Your perinium is the small area of firm skin and muscular tissue between the vagina and anus. It helps the elasticity of the perineum for birth and may reduce your risk of tearing. This is particularly beneficial for first time mothers. 

At a glance

  • You will look very pregnant now and regularly feel your baby wriggling around
  • It is a great time to be shopping for baby!
  • You may get Braxton Hicks now, as your body prepares for the birth
You may get some Braxton Hicks twinges, as your body prepares for birth

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